Canal Street Retail 1899

Canal Street Retail 1899

May meant big sales for Canal Street Retail in 1899.

canal street retail

Canal Street Retail 1899 – Sales!

Ads for Leon Fellman’s and A. Shwartz and Son from 14-May-1899 in the Daily Picayune. Both ads promote big sales for each store. While we look back now and see what appear to be typical advertising, there’s a lot going on for both stores.

canal street retail

Pickwick Building in 1948, just prior to its demolition. Leon Fellman’s moved to Baronne and Common, changed the store’s name to Feibleman’s, then sold to Sears in the 1930s.

Spring, 1899 was a transition time for Canal Street retail. It’s less than two years since some big changes in the Canal Street landscape. After the big fire on Valentine’s Day, 1892 that burned out most of the 701 block, A. Shwartz and Son moved up the street to the Mercier Buildings at 901 Canal Street. Leon Fellman left the Touro Buildings years earlier, as one of the first tenants at 901. After the Touro Buildings were rebuilt, A. Shwartz and Son wanted to move back. The youngest brother, Simon J. Shwartz chose to stay at 901 Canal. He acquired the entirety of the Mercier Buildings and terminated Fellman’s lease in early 1897. Later that year, SJ Shwartz opened the Maison Blanche.

Fellman took his store across the street. He acquired the Pickwick Building at 800 Canal. Leon converted the hotel into a department store. Two years later, L. Fellman & Co. still reminded shoppers of the new location.

1890s Diss Track?

canal street retail

The 14-May-1899 for A. Shwartz and Son took an interesting shot at younger brother Simon. After evicting Leon Fellman from 901 Canal, SJ Shwartz hit his father-in-law up for investment capital to bring the “department store” concept to New Orleans. Isidore Newman agreed with son-in-law Simon, and a local retail icon was born. The sheer size of the Maison Blanche made it a force from the beginning. Even though A. Shwartz and Son took over the corner of Bourbon and Canal Street, competing with a full department store was a challenge. Still, the original family store didn’t mind poking the bear. Since “Maison Blanche” translates to “White House,” the original store references the “White House” on Third Avenue in New York City. That allusion was what Simon had in mind when he converted SJ Shwartz Company to the French translation. He made it clear the New Orleans store was for New Orleans, with the French name. the family thumbed their nose at that.

Krauss to Fellman

Why talk about the Fellmans? Leon and his older brother Bernard (who never left the Touro Buildings) gave their nephews jobs at their store. Those nephews were the Krauss Brothers. After Leon settled in at 800 Canal Street, he purchased the entire 1201 block of Canal Street. Fellman built a two-story store there. He offered it to his nephews, who opened Krauss Department Store there in 1903.

 

Canal and Carondelet Streets – Two Views

Canal and Carondelet Streets – Two Views

Two views of Canal and Carondelet, fifty years apart!

canal and carondelet

Canal and Carondelet Streets

Two views of a busy part of Canal Street, the corner at Carondelet. The older image dates to the 1870s, the later one dates to the 1920s. While many things changed, there are a few constants between the views.

Canal Street, West from Clay statue

Photographer Clarence John Laughlin created this copy print of a photo from the 1870s around 1955. Here’s THNOC’s record entry:

Print of a 18th century photograph showing Canal Street with streetcars in neutral ground and businesses and houses of worship lining the street.

The original photographer (Blessing Studios, perhaps?) stands at the Clay Statue at St. Charles Street and Canal, looking towards the lake.The Canal Streetcar line opened in 1861. So, the mule-drawn streetcars dominated Canal Street by the time of this photo. The 700 block contains Moreau’s Restaurant, a book store, and a “Wig Manufactory.” The building with the corner turret and cupola is the Pickwick Hotel. It housed the Pickwick Club, a private businessman’s club with close ties to the Mystick Krewe. The hotel provided meeting and dining space to the club, and adopted their name.

The neutral ground contains a number of Stephenson “bobtail” streetcars. These mule-drawn cars operated on most lines in New Orleans, most notably the Carrollton, Canal, and Esplanade routes. To the right, the 801 block includes the D. H. Holmes dry goods store, mid-block.

The third incarnation of Christ Episcopal Church stands a block up, at 901 Canal. The church put their beautiful gothic building up for auction in 1884. The Mercier family purchased it. They demolished the church (which moved uptown to St. Charles and Sixth Streets), building a retail/office building. Mule-driven hack cabs stand in the foreground on the right, waiting for customers.

Carondelet in the 1920s

canal and carondelet

John Tibule Mendes shot a photo of the Louisiana Club in the 700 block of Canal in 1920. Here’s the second photo’s record entry at THNOC:

 View made from downriver side of Canal Street looking into Carondelet Street and the Central Business District. Buildings, mostly along the 700 and the corner at the 800 block, are visible, as are facades along the 100 block of Carondelet. The Louisiana Club, started around 1879, located at the corner of Canal and Carondelet for many years, is seen in mid-view. This club sponsors the High Priests of Mithras carnival ball. Pedestrians, a streetcar, and various business signs are also seen.

The record notes that the Louisiana Club started in the late 1870s, just after the date of the first photograph. While much at the corner has changed, the Pickwick Hotel building remains. In the interim, the Pickwick Club moved across the street to the 1000 block, then to its current location at St. Charles and Canal. Like the Pickwick Club, the Louisiana Club (now most closely associated with the Knights of Momus Carnival organization) is still around.

The right-hand side of Mendes’ photo shows the transition of streetcars from the earlier shot. The streetcar is a “single-truck,” Ford, Bacon & Davis model, operated by New Orleans Railway and Light Company. (NOPSI doesn’t form for another three years.) The turret of the Pickwick Hotel is visible, but the building is no longer a hotel. Local merchant Leon Fellman acquired the building in 1897. He moved his store from the Mercier Building in the 901 block to 800 Canal that year. By the time of the photo, 1920, Fellman passed away. His family returned to the German spelling of their last name, and the store changed its name to Feibleman’s.

We’ll unpack these photos in individual posts in the future. The compare/contrast here fascinated me, so we’re starting with that .

Later changes

Changes to buildings on Canal continued to change. While Feibleman’s moved to Baronne and Common streets in 1931, the building remained until 1947. Gus Mayer demolished it, building a larger location for their store. That building remains as the CVS Drugstore.

Hanes Once-a-year sale at NOLA stores

Hanes Once-a-year sale at NOLA stores

Hanes hosiery co-op ads at various NOLA stores.

nola stores

NOLA stores and Hanes

In the 1970s, Hanes, known for ladies hosiery and underwear, held a “once-a-year” sale. Various NOLA stores, Maison Blanche, D.H. Holmes, Labiche’s, and Gus Mayer, participated in the sale. They leveraged ad budgets by placing Hanes-specific ads for the sale. These “co-op” ads were paid for mostly by the manufacturer. So, the store promoted their brand and the product brand at the same time.

The sale in 1973 took place over the weekend of 13-January. NOLA stores enticed women to come in for the pantyhose and other items on sale. It’s fun to look at the styles from the advertising and art departments of the local stores.

Maison Blanche

westside shopping center

Sign for Maison Blanche in the parking lot of Westside, August, 1958. Sonny Randon Photography via the West Bank Beacon.

OK, yes, I’m a homer. I wrote a book on MB, so we start there. “Hanes sheer-madness annual sale of fashion hosiery in popular shades.” Note the mail-order form as part of the ad. Stores in 1973 were 901 Canal Street, Airline Village, Clearview, Gentilly Woods (The Plaza wouldn’t open until 1974), and Westside.

Labiche’s

nola stores

The talented artists at Labiche’s opted for a bolder presentation than MB. A woman wearing nothing but a scarf in her hair and jewelry, and the pantyhose. Gorgeous. Stores for Labiche’s: 714 Canal Street, Carrollton (the old shopping center, where Costco is now), Gentilly Woods, and Westside.

Holmes

nola stores

Daniel Henry Holmes’ dry good store on Canal Street grew to a number of suburban locations after WWII. In addition to the flagship store, Holmes locations included Lakeside Shopping Center, Oakwood, Baton Rouge, and Houma. While Holmes didn’t have a Gentilly store, they opened a location in The Plaza in 1974.

Gus Mayer

Originally in the 801 block of Canal Street, just up from Holmes, Gus Mayer built a big store across the street in 1948, demolishing the old Pickwick Hotel building. They also participated in the Hanes sale promotion. Gus Mayer operated not only the Canal Street store, but one at Elysian Fields and Gentilly  Blvd., as well as Carrollton, Clearview, and Oakwood Shopping Centers. While Gus Mayer ATNM as NOLA stores go, they still have stores in Birmingham, Alabama.

Godchaux’s

nola stores

Godchaux’s originally occupied the 501 block of Canal, later moving to the 801 block, next to the Boston Club. By the 1970s, they expanded to Lakeside and Edgewater Plaza in Biloxi. Their take on Hanes was different than the other NOLA stores. Godchaux’s opted for a cold-weather appeal,

NOLA History Guy December (6) – Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

NOLA History Guy December (6) – Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

Our sixth installment of NOLA History Guy December features Krauss Department Store

NOLA History Guy December

NOLA History Guy December – Krauss

At the end of the 19th Century, the 1201 block of Canal Street consisted of a series of single-family homes. In 1899, Businessman and real estate developer bought those buildings. Fellman demolished those buildings in 1903, building a two-story retail store.

Fellman was a well-established merchant in New Orleans. He started with his older brother, Bernard, running a dry goods shop in the 701 block of Canal. The brothers split, with Leon opening his own store in the Mercier Building at 901 Canal. When S. J. Shwartz acquired 100% of that building, Fellman moved to 800 Canal. While he saw potential for a successful store in the 1201 block, he wasn’t going that far up the street.

Leon invited his nephews, the Krausz brothers, to open their own store in his new building. The brothers changed their last name to Krauss, and opened what the Daily Picayune called “a veritable trade palace” in 1903. Krauss Department Store operated there, eventually occupying two city blocks. The store closed in 1997.

Growth and expansion

Krauss was an instant hit. Since the four Krauss brothers were bachelors, none of them had family to turn the store over to upon their retirement. So, they passed control over to Leon Heymann, their brother-in-law. Leon a New Orleanian with business interests in Houma, married Tekla Heymann. He assumed control of Krauss in 1920. Heymann acquired the entire square block behind the store, as well as the block directly behind that. With help from his son, Jimmy, and brother-in-law, Leon Wolf, Heymann expanded the store to fill the 1201 block, back to Iberville Street.

Christmas, 1952

In the 1950s, J. Phil Preddy managed the store’s displays and advertising departments. Preddy, a talented artist in his own right, created works for the store ranging from ad illustrations to giant murals painted on the front of the store. What better for NOLA History Guy December than Preddy’s Christmas display mural for the 1952 holiday season.

The Book

nola history guy december

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

NOLA History Guy December (2) – the founders of Maison Blanche

NOLA History Guy December (2) – the founders of Maison Blanche

Our second installment of NOLA History Guy December features Maison Blanche.

nola history guy december

Maison Blanche Department Stores – NOLA History Guy December

Simon J. Shwartz was an experienced realtor. He grew up in the family business, A. Shwartz and Son. Simon was the third son of Abraham Shwartz. With two older brothers working with their dad to run the shop in the Touro Buildings, S.J. went up to New York City. He became the store’s buyer. He came home to work in the store in the late 1880s, and married the daughter of Isidore Newman, a successful banker.

After the devastating fire in the Touro Buildings (the 701 block of Canal Street) on February 14, 1892, S.J. moved the family business up the street to the Mercier Building at 901 Canal Street (corner Dauphine). The family then re-built the 701-block store. S.J. was at a crossroads.

Creating Maison Blanche

Shwartz restored the success of A. Shwartz and Son after the fire, but his brother wanted to bring the store back down the street. So, S.J. pitched an idea to his father-in-law. He wanted to open the first true “department store” in New Orleans. Up until this point, “dry goods” stores like his family’s, the Fellman’s, and Daniel Henry Holmes’ store, serviced the city. They were joined by boutiques, like the Krausz Brothers shop at 811 Canal Street. Shwartz wanted to acquire the entire Mercier building, and he needed an investor.

Newman liked S.J.’s concept and backed it. Shwartz purchased the building, evicting Leon Fellman (who moved his store to the Pickwick Hotel Building at 800 Canal). Shwartz remodeled his building’s interior. By the Fall of 1897, he was ready to open.

The “Brain Trust”

Newman’s investment had strings attached. He had Shwartz hire Gus Gus Schullhoefer, Newmman’s brother-in-law, and Hartwig D. Newman, his son. They were smart guys, and gave Newman some eyes loyal to him inside the business. When Maison Blanche opened on October 31, 1897, the Daily Picayune gave over most of their front page to the store’s opening. In addition to details on the store, they profiled the three top executives. Here’s the caption for the image in the paper from the book:

The Maison Blanche Brain Trust. Isidore Newman’s son-in-law, S.J. Shwartz, his brother-in-law, Gus Schulhoefer, and his son, Hartwig Newman, were the first management team of Maison Blanche, from a profile piece in the New Orleans Picayune in 1897.

Into the 20th century

The was a success from the start. While it would be another fifty years until their precious Christmas Mascot, Mister Bingle, made his debut, Maison Blanche quickly earned their tagline, “Greatest Store South.”

Maison Blanche Department Stores

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

From the back cover:

On October 31, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman–with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman–opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building–13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors. The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character “Mr. Bingle,” in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

 

Boyd Cruise – 1303 St. Ann Street #frenchquarter

Boyd Cruise – 1303 St. Ann Street #frenchquarter

Stores like 1303 St. Ann Street were a common sight in the Treme.

1303 St. Ann Street by Boyd Cruise.

1303 St. Ann Street

Painting of the corner store at 1303 St. Ann Street by Boyd Cruise. Here’s the description of the painting from THNOC:

 View of a corner building in Faubourg Tremé with a grocery sign. Parts of the rain gutter and gallery railing are missing.

The location is currently part of Armstrong Park, across from the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Chase painted 1303 St. Ann Street in 1938. Chase painted a lot of locations at this time for various federal projects.

The store

This building displays a “Grocery” sign and two coffee advertisements, one for Luzianne and one for French Market. Even though Prohibition ended five years earlier, the store may not yet have returned to alcohol sales.

The owners chose not to put a name on their sign. That’s not surprising for the 1930s. Most customers shopping here walked from around the corner. While the big stores on Canal Street installed air-conditioning in the early 1930s, this store likely relied on fans and open windows. Without refrigeration, they offered dry goods, canned foods, flour, spices, etc. Neighbors looking for meat and seafood still walked over to the Treme Market. The transition to a wider inventory would have started at this time, but WWII slowed the process down for ten or so years.

The Artist

Alvik Boyd Cruise was born in 1909, and came to New Orleans in 1928. Read this great profile of him at 64 Parishes. His body of work contains a number of architectural paintings commissioned for a Historic American Buildings Survey of the French Quarter. The National Park Service started the HABS project in 1933. It’s currently administered by the NPS and the Library of Congress. The HABS survey of Canal Station is a great example of the product.

64 Parishes notes that Cruise made use of “plan books” archived at the Orleans Parish Notarial Archives to create representative portraits of various structures. While 1303 St. Ann Street isn’t explicitly listed as one of HABS paintings (the survey was for the Quarter), it’s certainly of that style.

Cruise later became the first director of The Historic New Orleans Collection.